Police agencies will step up patrols over holiday season

December 02, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY - While the day after Thanksgiving signaled the start of the Christmas shopping frenzy for most people, area police are thinking very different thoughts - how to keep those shoppers safe.

Highway safety and crime safety are both high priorities through the month of December for Hagerstown City Police, Maryland State Police and Washington County Sheriff's deputies.

  • Operation Safe Holidays is a project of deputies who will be providing patrols over the holiday season.

    The patrols will be in shopping areas throughout the county, paying special attention to drunken driving, alcohol violations, speeding, seat belt violations, thefts and shoplifters.

  • Maryland State Police are cracking down on drivers not wearing seat belts. But there will be a special emphasis on unbuckled teens, who have twice the fatality rates of other motorists, according to Sgt. Rick Narron at the Hagerstown barrack.

    The Click It or Ticket program involves not only Maryland State Police but also the Washington County Sheriff's Department, Narron said.

    The first enforcement blitz began during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend but there will be concerted efforts throughout the rest of the holiday season and beyond.

    During these enforcement projects, there will be checkpoints, saturation patrols and tickets issued to drivers who violate the traffic safety laws in Maryland.

  • Hagerstown City Police are likewise on the alert, checking more diligently for holiday-related crimes such as robberies, purse snatchings and traffic accidents due to more drivers on the roads.

  • All police remind citizens not to leave packages in plain view inside vehicles and to always lock their vehicles. Police also advise citizens to keep an eye on purses while shopping and be aware of surroundings and people wherever you are.

    According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there has been a 5 percent increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths in the country since 1999.

    For that reason, a new educational and enforcement program has been introduced nationwide. It is called Get MADD All Over Again.

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people 15 to 20 years old.

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